FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 5, 2015) – Interstate routes in Kentucky are open again, following an hours-long process of clearing miles of traffic that stacked up and ultimately became stranded during a storm that pounded some areas of the Commonwealth with record snowfall.
Highway crews from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), combined with contracted plow operators, continue to work on roadways in all sections of the state. The prospect of record snow being followed by record low temperatures now presents a new challenge: ice on roadways.
“The snow has stopped, but hazardous driving conditions remain the rule, and motorists should travel no more than is absolutely necessary,” KYTC Secretary Mike Hancock said. “Many of our roadways have gone from ‘snow-covered’ to ‘wet pavement,’ but it will begin freezing as temperatures drop.”
Hardest hit by the storm were Interstates 65 and 24, in central and western Kentucky, respectively. Both have been slowly clearing since mid-afternoon.
At this hour, the backup of traffic on I-65 has been reduced to a queue in Hart County between mile markers 71 and 74, site of a crash involving at least four tractor-trailers. Responders are working the queue car-to-car.
The Department of Highways Elizabethtown district is providing small amounts of fuel to trucks that ran out – enough to get them to the next exit. The traffic queue from mile markers 65 to 71 has been emptied at the Bonnieville exit and is going up U.S. 31W, which was established as a detour.
Earlier today, Governor Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency – the second in less than a month – that authorized deployment of National Guard troops and other state resources.
For highway crews, more daunting than the elements was a rash of jackknifed trucks and other stranded vehicles that blocked snow plows and other responders.
In western Kentucky, I-24 was blocked for hours when multiple trucks jackknifed in Lyon, Trigg and Christian counties. I-24 traffic was moving again in both directions by mid-afternoon today, but crews suffered another setback when a tractor-trailer crashed and blocked the exit ramp from I-24 east to I-69.
Elsewhere, at least 57 counties, mainly in central, eastern and southeastern Kentucky, reported state routes blocked by high water or mud slides